Let's Help Each Other Out!

This is a place for creative writing teachers to share idea to be come better teachers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You Should Be Afraid

The forgotten French philosopher Sartre--that existentialist dude--claimed what made travel interesting was the element of FEAR.

So it is with the travel of teaching. You go into class never totally in control. You cannot predict 100% what will be the outcome of what you do, unless you decide to play the total crowd pleaser, and, say, take them outside so that can not pay attention all period.

Fear.  And fear is most exciting when you're going into class to try out something new.  How will the attention deficit generation respond this time?

Have you ever written a short story back to front, when you start out knowing what the ending is? I never have. Story writing is a journey of discovery and only the story can generate the ending. I've never been able to impose one out on it before I write, but then my process begins with a feeling and general idea, not with anything more.

But what if you started at the end?  What if you could come up with a super bang up ending, as in Viramontes "The Moths," where the 14 year old holds her dead grandmother like a child in the bathtub while moths fly out of her mouth.  Or like the ending of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

So I am going into class with some super endings for short stories, some that I've made up that may not be very good, and some famous ones like those above.  I am going to have them try writing endings first.

They may hate it.  They idea may not work at all.  That's where the small element of fear comes in. This is a totally untested exercise on my part. Maybe it lives somewhere in a creative writing text I've never read.  If I have time I'll check the indexes of a few when I am at work.

To keep the job interesting, you have to take risks. And what the heck? So what if it doesn't work.

We don't necessarily have to fear fear itself.

A lot of new recipies get thrown in the trash.  Someday soon, the state may require a standardized test at the end of each college course.  Better get your risk taking in soon.

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